Dale Earnhardt Claims 5th Championship
Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd proved to be the top championship contenders of the 1991 NASCAR Cup Series season, collecting a combined five victories during the 29-race premier series schedule.
Earnhardt was in his eighth season behind the wheel of the No.3 Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress and fielded by Richard Childress Racing. The two had joined forces for the second time in 1984, after having shown promise during 10 races together in 1981.
Since reuniting, Earnhardt and Childress had become a force in NASCAR Cup Series racing, winning championships in 1986, 1987 and 1990, and they looked to add a fourth title in 1991. Earnhardt claimed his first championship with team owner Rod Osterlund in 1980 for a career total of four when the season began.
Rudd, a former driver for Childress in 1982 and 1983 when Earnhardt raced for Bud Moore, was driving for team owner Rick Hendrick in 1991 and showing championship promise. He was in his second season at Hendrick Motorsports. With master crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson at his side, the No. 5 Chevrolet was strong every time it rolled out of the garage area.
Both Earnhardt and Rudd man- aged to show consistency throughout the schedule. Rudd collected a victory at Darlington Raceway in April, along with 17 top-10 finishes. Even though Rudd had a good season, it was Earnhardt’s wins at Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega and North Wilkesboro, along with 21 top-10 results, that made the difference in the championship standings.
At season’s end, Earnhardt was 195 points ahead of Rudd to claim his fifth NASCAR Cup Series championship.
PRESIDENT: GEORGE H.W. BUSH
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HARRY GANT, DRIVING THE NO.33 Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile for Leo Jackson Racing, recorded five wins and 17 top-10 finishes in 29 starts during the 1991 season.
Four of the victories came consecutively at Darlington, Richmond, Martinsville and North Wilkesboro, prompting the media to dub him “Mr. September.” Gant went on to finish fourth in points behind Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd and Davey Allison. Gant retired from driving three years later with 18-career victories.
ON AUG.18 , 1991, DALE JARRETT, driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, logged his first-career Cup Series victory at Michigan International Speedway as he beat Davey Allison’s Robert Yates Racing Ford to the checkered flag by a mere eight inches. Jarrett got the advantage coming off turn four and edged ahead of Allison by less than a bumper’s width. Jarrett went on to win 31 additional Cup Series races before his retirement in 2005.
DALE EARNHARDT’S No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, winner of four NASCAR Cup Series races in 1991. Ricky Rudd’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, winner of the spring race at Darlington that season.
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Feb. 17 | Daytona International Speedway | Ernie Irvan
Feb. 24 | Richmond Raceway | Dale Earnhardt
March 3 | Rockingham Speedway | Kyle Petty
March 18 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Ken Schrader
April 7 | Darlington Raceway | Ricky Rudd
April 14 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Rusty Wallace
April 21 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Darrell Waltrip
April 28 | Martinsville Speedway | Dale Earnhardt
May 6 | Talladega Superspeedway | Harry Gant
May 26 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Davey Allison
June 2 | Dover International Speedway | Ken Schrader
June 9 | Sonoma Raceway | Davey Allison
June 16 | Pocono Raceway | Darrell Waltrip
June 23 | Michigan International Speedway | Davey Allison
July 6 | Daytona International Speedway | Bill Elliott
July 21 | Pocono Raceway | Rusty Wallace
July 28 | Talladega Superspeedway | Dale Earnhardt
Aug. 11 | Watkins Glen International | Ernie Irvan
Aug. 18 | Michigan International Speedway | Dale Jarrett
Aug. 24 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Alan Kulwicki
Sept. 1 | Darlington Raceway | Harry Gant
Sept. 7 | Richmond Raceway | Harry Gant
Sept. 15 | Dover International Speedway | Harry Gant
Sept. 22 | Martinsville Speedway | Harry Gant
Sept. 29 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Dale Earnhardt
Oct. 6 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Geoff Bodine
Oct. 20 | Rockingham Speedway | Davey Allison
Nov. 3 | Phoenix Raceway | Davey Allison
Nov. 17 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Mark Martin